It’s cold and rainy outside, but inside you’re curled up on the couch with a cozy book, a soft blanket, and a hot cup of tea. Whether you’re in the mood for something erudite and reflective or something light and full of action, we’ve got you covered. So resist the temptation to veg out with old ‘Housewives’ reruns, and pick up one of these cozy books perfect for a fall day.
1. A Study In Scarlett Women by Sherry Thomas
Nothing screams fall quite like a good mystery. The original Sherlock Holmes stories are always a safe bet, but if you’ve already exhausted Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s tales of the great detective or want something a little more modern, try Sherry Thomas’ Lady Sherlock series. The first book introduces you to Charlotte Holmes, a young woman determined to solve a trio of murders in London.
2. The Spy Who Came In From The Cold by John Le Carré
Maybe you like your thrillers a little grittier. Enter John le Carré. He’s a master of the spy genre, and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is one of his most beloved. It tells the story of Alex Leamas, a British agent, as he takes on one last mission. Le Carré himself worked in British Intelligence, and he brings that expertise to his novels. Enjoy Leamas’ adventures in international espionage and covert operations while you nuzzle a little deeper into your blanket.
3. Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
This YA debut hits all the cozy sweet spots. Louise is a witch, Reid is a witch hunter, and the two of them are married. Cue disaster. With such a dramatic premise, it would be easy for this book to come off as a little self-serious, but the tone is light with lots of sarcasm and banter. Plus, it’s full of descriptions of delicious pastries, snowy days, and sumptuous clothes. It’s basically the pinnacle of cozy books.
4. The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman
A lazy fall day is the perfect time to pick up this classic middle-grade fantasy. Follow Lyra Belaqua as she travels from Oxford to the frozen north, trying to rescue her friend, Roger, from kidnappers. You’ll be left with a desire to see the Northern Lights and a new appreciation for the miracle of central heating. This recommendation also happens to be timely; after you’re done, you can watch HBO’s new adaptation and answer the age-old question of which was better, the book or the show?
5. A Discovery Of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Halloween may be over, but witches are never out of season. A Discovery of Witches is chock-full of all things cozy– witches, vampires, French castles oh my! Diana Bishop is an Oxford don who comes from a long line of witches. While conducting research in the Bodleian Library she discovers a manuscript that everyone in the supernatural world seems to want. This one is a little on the long side, so get comfortable and settle in.
6. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison
This is book one in Jemison’s Broken Earth trilogy, all three of which won Hugo awards for best novel. If you’re looking for escapism that makes you think about reality, look no further. The story takes place in a world both pre- and post- apaocalyptic called the Stillness and is told from the perspectives of Demaya, a child, Syen, a young woman, and Essun, a middle-aged mother. It revolves around multiple themes– power, gender, race, and ecology to name a few. If that sounds like the opposite of cozy, rest assured that Jemisin is able to keep readers engrossed in the fantastical, even when her commentary is anything but.
7. How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones
“Being black can get you killed. Being gay can get you killed. Being a black gay boy is a death wish,” writes Jones, who is both. His memoir chronicles his journey from acknowledging to embracing his identity. It isn’t a simple journey, but Jones, a poet, tells his story with lyricism and sincerity. It’s short enough to finish in a single afternoon, but you’ll be thinking about it for far longer.
8. We’re Going To Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union
One of the best parts of going home for the holidays is catching up with old friends over a glass (or bottle) of wine. That’s the feeling reading Gabrielle’s Union’s memoir evokes. Union’s reminiscent memories are both funny and moving, sharing details about her life normally reserved for one’s inner circle. If you can’t get home to see your own girlfriends, this is the next best thing.
9. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Set at an elite New England university, The Secret History takes place among changing leaves and evolving friendships. A group of classics students delve ever deeper into the ancient world at the expense of their morality. Both atmospheric and chilling, this is the perfect read for when you’d like your cozy read with just a drop of cynicism.
10. Autumn by Ali Smith
It’s all in the name. This is the first installment of Smith’s planned seasonal quartet. The novel is set in 2016 just after the Brexit vote, examining the relationship between protagonist, Elisabeth, and elderly artist, Daniel. If you’re feeling exhausted and disheartened by the current political landscape, this may be the perfect antidote. It doesn’t dismiss the prevalence of cynicism and fear, but it’s more interested in the role of art and kindness in combating them.
11. An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler
This is a must read for any young adult learning how to live on their own and feed themselves food that isn’t ordered from an app. This book is equal parts philosophy and how-to. She’ll teach you how to scrounge up a meal when you haven’t been to the grocery store in two weeks while making you re-evaluate how you think about cooking. And, even if you don’t end up implementing every suggestion she gives, the descriptions of food are so mouthwatering it more than earns its place on a list of cozy books.
12. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
Being asked personal difficult questions about careers, significant others, children etc. is a time honored holiday tradition. So when your great-aunt Carol asks you when you’re going to marry that boyfriend you broke up with two years ago, read this examination of the culture of public shaming and feel a little better. Ronson examines scandals both big and small, and how the frenzy of the internet gets shaming right and, sometimes, very wrong.